How is chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL)/small lymphocytic leukemia (SLL) characterized in the histologic findings of NHL/B-cell lymphoma?

Updated: Feb 23, 2021
  • Author: Mohammad Muhsin Chisti, MD, FACP; Chief Editor: Emmanuel C Besa, MD  more...
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Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL)/small lymphocytic leukemia (SLL) is a neoplasm composed of monomorphic small, round to slightly irregular B lymphocytes in the peripheral blood, bone marrow, spleen, and lymph nodes, admixed with prolymphocytes and paraimmunoblasts forming proliferation centers in tissue infiltrates.

The lymph node architecture is effaced, with a pseudofollicular pattern of regularly distributed pale areas corresponding to proliferation centers containing larger cells in a dark background of small cells. The predominant cell type is the small lymphocyte. Mitotic activity is usually low. The size of proliferation centers and the number of paraimmunoblasts vary from case to case, but there is no correlation between lymph node histology and clinical course.

On peripheral blood smears and bone marrow aspirate smears the CLL/SLL cells are small lymphocytes with clumped chromatin and scant cytoplasm. Smudge or basket cells are typically seen in peripheral blood smears.

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